Raising butterfly babies...

So when I'm not Copperworking, I've got this sort of side project called "Milkweed for Monarchs" happening through the generous support we received from the Project Impact Initiative back in the spring.  You may remember me going on about how cool this undertaking was and all the cool little community betterment projects that came out of it.  

Anyway, so we've been spending the summer harvesting wild milkweed seeds and growing them in our greenhouses, rescuing mature milkweed plants from the side of the French River highway expansion and finding homes for all of them all over town.  People have been generously stepping up and donating yard and garden space and creating little milkweed "waystations" for the struggling Monarch butterfly population.  This plant, in case you maybe didn't know, is the only food source for the Monarch and the only plant on which they lay their eggs and they are rapidly losing this habitat due to urban expansion etc.  

We have been so pleasantly surprised with how high the demand for these beautiful plants has been and we couldn't be happier!  Everyone wants milkweed it seems!  And even happier than us has been the Monarchs!  Soon after homing plants in host yards we began getting pictures of big, fat and happy Monarch caterpillars who seemed to have moved right in and started eating.  Yay!  

We even managed to salvage some caterpillars who weren't hanging out in the best of locations and we brought them inside and reared them by hand  -- a super fun thing to do with kids AND takes the baby caterpillars out of harm's way until they cocoon.  We snapped some pics of the whole cocoon to release process (it takes about 2 weeks) and thought we'd share them here because really, it's so awesome.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Almost all filled out!

Almost all filled out!


Getting ready to say goodbye!

Getting ready to say goodbye!

Take a rest!

Take a rest!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!